Ask a Christian Reformed Church member what it means to be Reformed and one of the answers you'll probably get is 'It means to have a world and life view" or "It means to recognize the Lordship of Christ over all things." That's a good answer, but what does it mean? Do we understand what that means today? Does it make a difference in the way we practice our faith?
The Seminary Choir was ready to lead the entire worship service. The planning was complete, and different students took various leader¬ship roles. The planning team had chosen a Psalter Hymnal setting of Psalm 43, "Send Out Your Light and Your Truth," as a sung prayer for illumination before the sermon. One worship leader began the service. After we sang this prayer, another student stepped into the pulpit and said, "Let us pray." He then offered a spoken prayer for illumination, read the Scripture, and opened the Word.
On my recent trip to Israel and Palestine, I read a book by Julie Orringer. In the beginning of The Invisible Bridge, the main character, Andras, expresses doubts about his ability to fulfill the expectations placed upon him as he embarks to study in Paris on a scholarship. He speaks to his father about his doubt. Orringer writes, "At best, he told his father, he was the beneficiary of misplaced faith; at worst, a simple fraud." He asks his father, "And what if I fail?'' His father's answer is succinct: "Ah! Then you'll have a story to tell!"
What does the Bible really teach about the unity and diversity of the human family?
The coming of the nations to North America is one of the most dramatic developments of our time. From major cities to many rural communities, ethnic differences are a way of life today. With ethnic differences often come fear, misunderstanding, and prejudice. Unfortunately, Christians are often a part of the problem instead of the solution. And often, conversation among Christians reveals some important misunderstandings of the Bible's teaching in this area.
People fear the past in different ways. In Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge Michael Henchard has a shameful past. Early in his life, while drunk, he auctioned off his young wife and his baby daughter to a sailor for five guineas. Later, filled with shame, he swore off drinking, moved away, and eventually became the mayor of his new home, Casterbridge. As the narrative unfolds his past catches up with him. For people with guilty secrets the past is a wounded bear that seems to be gaining on them.
It's true for nurses, plumbers, seminary professors, and workers of all kinds: some of the most promising approaches to our work come to us after a day that didn't go so well. As we walk or drive home, cook supper, and tuck our children in bed, we ponder how we could have done it better. Some of the best cures for a dry spell in our work often come from a co-worker who arrives at work with the words, "You know, last night I was thinking about our common challenge, and I wonder if we might...."
The history of children at the Lord's Supper is essentially the story of the relationship between the sacraments. In the early church, all baptized persons were welcome at communion. This practice was gradually abandoned in the Middle Ages, so that by the Reformation the Western church had separated the Lord's Supper from baptism and attached it to confirmation or profession of faith. Today, Protestant denominations have begun to reunite baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Questions and adventure have always coexisted in my life. My mother will tell you I've always had a lot of questions. Once I learned to talk, she patiently endured my incessant ponderings and propositions. An event from my early childhood illustrates the wondering soul God placed within me. I was five and loved to play in the woods between my house and the family dairy farm. On one wooded adventure I discovered an injured bird quivering in the dirt. Terrified and broken, it tried to regain use of its body.